The Something Rain, Tindersticks‘ ninth album, stubbornly holds fast to the group’s branded, nocturnal avant-pop, one that holds within it everything from elegantly textured electronics and touches of jazz to cabaret, chanson, and melancholy indie pop. Vocalist Stuart Staples‘ signature dulcet baritone is as haunting as ever: it shivers almost constantly atop a mix that contains everything from carefully layered keyboards, bowed bass and cellos to spidery guitars, vibes, minimal drum kits, reeds, and loops. That Tindersticks‘ sonic universe is so carefully attended and guarded doesn’t mean there isn’t growth or daring — this is the most urgent and erotically chargerd recording they’ve made in over a decade — it’s just that it’s (mostly) very subtle. The album opens with the nine-minute “Chocolate.” The music is a soundtrack accompanying a spoken word vocal by David Boulter. He relates a narrative with a startling punch line. Saxophones, acoustic guitars, glockenspiel, bass, piano, and organ all shimmer and slip beneath his calm exterior delivery. It’s a rather brave way to open any recording. “This Fire of Autumn” is uncharacteristically uptempo , driven by bass and guitars, with an organ and other keys shifting through the backdrop and highlighting a snare. The shock comes on the refrain, where Staples‘ protagonist is propelled ever forward into the possibility of a particularly dangerous, consumptive, love affair. As if to accentuate this, a female backing chorus in full lounge-R&B croon à la Leonard Cohen haunts the refrain. “A Night So Still,” with its cheap drum machine loops, reverbed guitars, and keyboards is nonetheless powerful. So purposefully restrained is its seductive narrative, it creates a nearly unbearable tension. “Medicine,” the single, is a languid, velvety ballad. It’s a fine contrast to the proceeding cut; “Frozen” could have been remixed by a ’90s-era drum’n’bass producer, its gently dissonant saxophones and smoky, down-in-the-mix vocal by Staples would make it a great 12″. “Come Inside,” with its gently undulating Rhodes piano, evokes the tender atmospherics of jazz pianist Hampton Hawes‘ Universe album. The set closes once more in soundtrack mode with “Goodbye Joe,” an instrumental that directly evokes Ennio Morricone‘s spaghetti westerns. The Something Rain‘s grace, elegance, and beauty, are enhanced throughout by its quiet daring and spirit of chance.